Was China’s Send-down Movement Really a Blessing for Rural Education and Economic Development?

32 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2020

See all articles by Guan Gong

Guan Gong

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics

Gordon Liu

Peking University - National School of Development

Ding Lu

ShanghaiTech University - School of Entrepreneurship and Management; University of the Fraser Valley

James G. Wen

Trinity college; Trinity College

Huizhong Zhou

Western Michigan University

Date Written: December 17, 2020

Abstract

Chen et al. (2020) claim to have found a positive causal effect of the send-down movement on rural education during China’s Cultural Revolution. The paper also infers that the movement made the contribution of human capital accumulation in rural areas to China's subsequent economic growth in reform era. We demonstrate that the claimed finding and its inference can be challenged on both factual and methodological grounds. In particular, once the educational attainment is coded by actual schooling-year requirements set during the Cultural Revolution, the estimated effects of send-down youths on rural education become negative and statistically insignificant. We also question the authors’ choice to only consider marginal gains in rural schooling without assessing the trade-off of the much larger losses in human capital and social economic costs of the movement.

JEL Classification: I25, O15, P36, R23

Suggested Citation

Gong, Guan and Liu, Gordon and Lu, Ding and Wen, James G. and Zhou, Huizhong, Was China’s Send-down Movement Really a Blessing for Rural Education and Economic Development? (December 17, 2020). ShanghaiTech SEM Working Paper No. 2020-012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3750613 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3750613

Guan Gong

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics ( email )

777 Guoding Road
Shanghai, AK Shanghai 200433
China

Gordon Liu

Peking University - National School of Development ( email )

Beijing, 100871
China

Ding Lu (Contact Author)

ShanghaiTech University - School of Entrepreneurship and Management ( email )

393 Huaxia Middle Rd
Pudong Xinqu, Shanghai
China

University of the Fraser Valley ( email )

33844 King Road
Abbotsford, BC V2S7M8
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.ufv.ca/economics/faculty-and-staff/

James G. Wen

Trinity college ( email )

300 Summit St.
Hartford, CT
United States

Trinity College ( email )

300 Summit Street
Hartford, CT 06106
United States

Huizhong Zhou

Western Michigan University ( email )

Kalamazoo, MI 49008
United States

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